From DL to PDF to online & beyond!

October 1, 2014 at 11:39 am | Posted in copywriting | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Leverage your content worldwide!

Leverage your content worldwide!

Remember that jolly DL brochure I edited?

It’s not back from the printer yet, but it did throw up a further lesson during the design process.

Never one to stop seeking value, I asked my client:

‘Once this brochure is finalised for printing, do you reckon we’ll also leverage the file into a PDF?

Doing so would let you post it on your website for downloading any time.

You could also email it to any (younger?) prospects who flag a preference for screen browsing over snail mail (especially if you need to get a brochure to them fast).

If you think this URL idea has legs, I can add a few handy hyperlink suggestions (e.g. behind headshot photos and company logos) so online readers can easily explore.

More bang for your buck, and all that.

These URLs would not be visible in or affect the printed brochure (i.e. if you printed the PDF yourself, it’d be identical to the commercially printed brochure).

I’m definitely not suggesting we run two versions of this brochure – merely that we augment the master file to suit two channels.

Please let me know what you reckon.’

My client agreed this was worthwhile.

Thus spurring me to ever greater efforts to give him value for money.

:)

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

 Pic from Wikipedia.

Notes on DL brochures

September 16, 2014 at 7:33 am | Posted in copywriting | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
An easy way so see DL.

An easy way so see DL.

A client asked me to edit a brochure and suggest a format.

Once I saw what the brochure was for (promoting a course to time-poor execs) I suggested ‘DL’ format.

So what the hell is DL? Swim Communications puts it very well.

In short, DL is a third the size of A4 (the size you stick in your printer).

My client, who had imagined an A4 format, asked why I preferred DL.

So I said:

‘DL is easier and cheaper to post to many prospects.

Also, I feel it looks more businesslike.

If you go flat A4, you’ll either have to post it folded anyway, or add cardboard to stop it getting mangled en route.

But if you hit a non-A4 letterbox, it’ll get mangled anyway.

Not a good look for your brand.

Folded DLs are also easier to hand out at events, display in foyers and carry away.

Finally, the beauty of a DL brochure is that you can add as many panels as you need to cover the content and it still fits in a standard business envelope.’

My client was impressed.

I can’t wait to see what the designer does with our optimised content.

I wrote this post to demonstrate that expert copywriters and editors don’t just focus on words.

They think about your business, your brand, your communication strategy, your audience, your costs, your desired results and how to wring every drop of value from your investment.

And though they may not be design experts, they know from long experience what works and what doesn’t.

So when you send your perfected copy to a designer for finishing, they’ll have the best possible chance of smashing it out of the park.

:)

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

 Pic by The Internet Printer.

Stew on this!

August 7, 2014 at 12:23 pm | Posted in copywriting | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

 

Which side are you on?

Which side are you on?

I was once asked to settle a family debate.

She said you stew apples to create the dish Stewed apple.

He said you stew apples to create … stewed apples.

This is what I said:

I’m honoured you’ve consulted me.

In most cases, Stewed apple would be seen as generic.

In literal terms, very few would stew just one apple.

Stewed apples, however, lays it out explicitly. There’s definitely more than one apple involved.

If you stew multiple apples but refer to the result in the singular, some readers may pause to consider a possible disconnect.

This is dangerous, as they’ll be distracted from your message.

If you use multiple apples and say stewed apples, there’s no conflict and therefore no distraction.

If, however, for some reason, you stew just one apple, stewed apple is bang on the money.

Lastly, we have the dish: Stewed apple.

Bing returns just 88,200 hits for this term.

Stewed apples, however, has 120,000 hits.

A huge difference if you want people to find your website and buy your stuff.

So, by any measure (except the stewing of a sole apple) I’d recommend stewed apples.

In other words,

for the purpose of this debate,

you’re stewed!

She ignored me.

But it was fun.

If you liked it too, perhaps you should be a copywriter!

:)

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by sid.

Right between the eyes

January 22, 2014 at 8:35 am | Posted in copywriting | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
2163474742_76d766fcfe_o Bullets

Now look here.

Last week I optimised a LinkedIn summary.

This was a natural progression from editing resumes.

And with jobs falling like flies, I expect this work to burgeon.

My client had asked for a ‘punchier’ summary, yet had much to say in a small space.

So I pulled out the big guns:

bullet points.

But when I submitted the summary, my client asked:

Do you think it’s OK to have many sets of bullet points like that?

I thought carefully before replying.

LinkedIn is mutating monthly.

What worked before may not now.

And many who claim to be social media ‘gurus’ aren’t.

That said, I felt my reply was solid:

Bullets pack a pithy punch while resting reader eyes.

This is particularly important online – where attention spans are gnat-like.

And the LinkedIn format fairly begs for this kind of ‘shorthand’.

The good thing about bullets is that if you feel there are too many, you can ditch the least-fabulous ones.

So, the question is: how much of a punch do you wish to pack?

You can answer this question yourself.

Or ask your trusty focus group.

As is so often the case, we should let our readers be our guide.

Fair enough?

My client agreed.

Do you?

:)

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Qui Ckon CEO Ver.

January 6, 2014 at 9:17 am | Posted in copywriting | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Almost white

Does this look all white to you?

Sorry about that title; only had time for a ‘quick once over’.

All the letters are there: the caps and spacing didn’t confuse, did they?

As a copywriter, I sometimes get quick-once-over requests. I wonder if you do too.

The request has three variations:

1.  Just give it 15 minutes.

Some clients assess my work by what I keep, not discard.

Thus, if I spend an hour rendering two pages of crud into one perfect paragraph, they see 50 words and think Bargain!

If I were a surgeon, they’d say:

Look at that jar: it’s tiny! Why bill me for operating on my whole body when you only took out that little, bitty gallstone?!

2.  Just focus on the howlers.

An intelligent client may spend weeks crafting a pitch for a huge piece of business. She’s happy with her content and only wants me to flag the one or two bad errors I might find.

Though I invariably find dozens of small to medium errors that I know will undermine her brand, pitch (and even viability) she isn’t interested. She knows her writing is good. She gave it to me at the eleventh hour, as an afterthought.

If I were a crèche, she’d say:

We’re entering Emily in a national baby contest in four hours. I’m going home to change. Just keep her alive until I return. Only call if she goes blue or black; don’t worry about the peanut thing. I know my daughter.

3.  There’s only two hours in the budget.

I perfect communications via multiple processes. Spelling, punctuation, tone, cadence, readability and jargon are just the tip.

Numbers, fact accuracy, logical flow, legal compliance, audience suitability and consistency with branding and prior communications form the next level. Then there’s the optional humour, irony, academic and cultural references etc.

This deep thinking takes time.

So, if I get two hours to optimise 6000 not-very-good words, I must cut corners. Yet like a Rubik’s cube, my corners intertwine. Lose one, no cube.

If I were a builder, they’d say:

We need a safe, certified, 25-square home for $50K. Don’t forget the plumbing, wiring, plaster, painting, insulation, termite proofing and hurricane roofing. We’re in Darwin.

Time is money: I need it and I know clients aren’t made of it. I promise perfect communications: too-small budgets make this impossible. Yet I genuinely like my clients and want them to prosper.

I can’t let flawed work leave my desk. So I do three or four hours for the price of two. Just like the fairies.

How about you? Do you mow three hectares for the price of two? Install five workstations for the cost of three? Teach eight people for the fee of five?

If so, what’s your motivation?

  1. Pride.
  2. Love.
  3. Money.
  4. Other (please state _________ ).
  5. All of the above.

Idlo VETOK Now!

:)

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

On your mark

December 21, 2013 at 5:40 am | Posted in copywriting | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Does military service torpedo careers?

Does military service kill careers?

As the global economy wobbles and shifts, I’ve been doing more resumes (CVs) than usual.

This recently triggered a prospective client request I’d not encountered before:

Please discuss your experience with translating military careers to civilian resumes.

I had to think about this one – especially as it came from a US prospect.

Along with mining, I don’t do defence (defense) work.

But am I wrong to throw the hand grenade out with the heavy water by focusing on sectors, instead of people?

Anyway, this is what I came up with:

Hi, Arnie*.

I appreciate your wish to choose the best possible service provider.

It wouldn’t surprise me at all if you found a US writer who more closely understood your background and needs.

Last month I did a CV for a Major-turned-CEO who spent a decade in the Australian Army.

Over the years, one or two other clients have come to me with limited military exposure (e.g. reserves) but this was only part of their bigger picture.

My approach to military service is to the accentuate the positive (e.g. leadership, responsibility, decision making, accountability, prioritisation, maturity, working with BIG gear).

During my human resources career, I found some recruiters were a bit ‘twitchy’ about hiring ex-defence personnel.

I always look for the qualities of a person, rather than how or where they honed them.

I’ve been on interview panels where I was a fan of the massively experienced former-naval guy, but other managers wondered why he didn’t get a ‘normal’ job instead of doing service.

So, when doing a resume with military experience, I ensure the content demonstrates that the candidate did not run to the military to escape debt, jail (gaol), women, babies, abusive parents or evil voices in the head.

By laying out the noble reasons for joining up, I neutralise prejudices in the minds of some biased recruiters.

From closely following the media, I gather that the US experience is rather more acute than that of Aussie soldiers.

I think Iraq trumps East Timor.

So I may well not have the big-gun expertise you seek.

What I do have, however, is the ability to put your best foot forward in a way that will delight sceptical managers and cowardly HR types by hitting their hot buttons and negating their fears.

I hope this answers your questions, Arnie.

As a greenie, defence (like mining) isn’t my sector of choice.

But, unlike most in the field, I actually believe human resource professionals  should be human, resourceful and professional.

So I’m pretty confident I can get you where you need to be.

Kind regards,

P.

Arnie hasn’t replied to this or my follow-up email.

I think I lost him at ‘greenie’.

Still, it was an interesting exercise in clarifying what I can (and am prepared to) do to earn a living.

(You may recall I’ve had angst on this issue.)

I hope you found this reflection entertaining.

As always, I warmly welcome your thoughts.

:)

* Not his real name.

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Cliche of the Titans

December 18, 2013 at 9:45 am | Posted in copywriting, Uncategorized | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
A fight to the death.

A fight to the death.

One of my clients makes high-end breakfast products.

So when she wrote on her labels that breakfast was:

the most important meal of the day,

she knew it.

And meant it.

But this didn’t stop me challenging her.

You see, every person and their pet know and use this time-worn truism.

So I suggested we change it to:

the day’s most vital meal.

My client then had the temerity to suggest she preferred important to vital!

And so I mounted my defence:

  1. Vital is shorter than important.
  2. Vital packs more punch.
  3. By ditching most important meal of the day for day’s most vital meal,  we kill the cliché and own the concept.
  4. This switches the passive voice to active.
  5. It also gives superior cadence.
  6. Finally, vital stems from the Latin word for life/living (which is much in sync with a food brand).

So, do you still want important?!

My client replied:

‘You win a million times on this one. Thank you!’

Gracious, intelligent, enlightened and humble clients like this keep me copywriting.

And make me strain every nerve to advance their prosperity.

:)

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Handle with care

September 20, 2013 at 9:37 am | Posted in copywriting | 11 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
A delicate operation.

A delicate operation.

Word up!

When you edit a website to relaunch a high-end muesli range, every word counts.

To this end, a clever client and I recently had an interesting exchange:

She

I bought some yogurt today. They have ‘handcrafted’ as part of their product description.

I currently use ‘hand mixed’ on my website and labels.

Do you think ‘handcrafted’ could be a better word for my range?

What about ‘hand made’?

Me

‘Handcrafted’ used to be a novel take on ‘hand made’, but it isn’t anymore.

Your muesli isn’t furniture.

And you aren’t God.

Therefore, ‘crafted’ is not the word I’d go for.

I think you’re already totes on the money with ‘hand mixed’.

And, for the record, I’d like as few hands as possible in my yogurt!

Morals

So we’re sticking with ‘hand mixed’.

Copywriting is a deeper process than some people think.

That said, if a client has already nailed something, a good copywriter doesn’t try to gild the lily or fix what ain’t broke.

For that is our

craft.

What do you think?

:)

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by Jay PH.

Speak or ZING?

April 15, 2013 at 8:08 am | Posted in copywriting | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Samurai warrior

Are you a ZINGer?

Alas! My business coach, Winston Marsh, gave my expensive online shop the thumbs down!

On the topic of ZING-based copywriting, we’ve long been at odds.

It’s time to analyse the sticking place.

In the blue corner is me. I believe the message is everything. As I used to tell my Copy School students:

If you have a message that’s true, interesting and relevant to your audience, you can write it on a piece of toilet paper and nail it to a tree in the forest. Someone will find it and, if they’re not interested, pass it on to those who are.

In the red corner is Winston. He believes every message needs plenty of ZING and is adamant I should use phrases like:

Copywriting that’s so powerful, it sucks people’s eyeballs into the screen.

Words so compelling, they leap off the page and bite you on the bum.

Here’s his rationale:

I firmly believe the product or service must deliver on the promises made for it. Then, providing it does, that’s when you really sock it to them in language that sucks the eyeballs into the screen, etc.

It’s our job to really get the prospect excited, enthused and busting to buy. Remember, you sell the sizzle not the steak!

I have dreadful problems with sizzle. Yet Winston’s speaking, coaching and publishing empire is many times greater than I could hope to achieve.

What to do?

Ad agencies advise: ‘If you’ve got nothing to say, sing!’ In other words, if the product you’re flogging lacks merit, put all your resources into showmanship.

I totally get this with soft drink or chocolate. But what about corporate copywriting?

Because I believe I have something to say, I feel that singing is unnecessary (at best) and harmful to my brand (at worst). Surely my clear, correct, elegant copy is the singing equivalent of verbose, inaccurate, dreary copy.

Am I not singing already? Is not the steak more important than the sizzle?

There’s just one problem: most people who visit my shop don’t buy my ebook.

Winston took one look at my landing page and pronounced it ‘flat’. He’s certain that unless I ZING, my register won’t ring.

Should I stop being precious and get with the program? Or should I screw my courage to the sticking place and hold fast in defence of quiet, measured, reasonable copy?

How about you? Are you a speaker or a ZINGer?

If you changed tack, how would your audience react?

Your response would be music to our

eyes.

:)

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

The best headline I’ve seen

February 5, 2013 at 6:06 am | Posted in copywriting | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Remember how I unintentionally ‘mozzed’ my neighbour’s home auction by invoking a thunderstorm?

Well, I just got a letter with the best headline I’ve seen:

SOLD

This is a corker.

This isn’t the best headline you’ve seen, but it wasn’t written for you. It was written for me, by Andrew Crotty, who wants to sell my home.

I am his target audience.

I wasn’t thinking of selling my home: now I am.

I’ve had emails, letters, postcards, magnets, phone calls and calendars from six other agents: I binned them all. Yet now I’m blogging about Biggin Scott.

Good headline.

In 10 Steps to Perfect Recruitment Ads I explain that the best ads have four elements: attention, interest, desire and action.

Attention

This house is four up from mine, with a similar floor plan. Mine’s better (of course)!

So if this sold for $530K, mine must be worth $550K; maybe more. That sure got my attention.

The subheader was the street address, which rammed home the local nature of this happy news.

Interest

Under the subheader was:

(Two bedroom cottage, no parking).

These diminutive italics were like a friendly aside, ‘So much loot for such a crap home – imagine what yours could fetch!’

I recalled that the pitch to buyers was rather more fulsome. Fortunately, it was still online*:

This Brick Victorian offers quick & easy access to the city along with being situated close to Victoria Park and public transport.

• 2 bedrooms both with built in robes

• Recently renovated lounge & dining area

• Modern Kitchen-s/s appliances

• Timber flooring – Built in entertainment unit

• Near new bathroom & laundry

• Private paved courtyard – feature fish pond

I LOVE how Cinderella-like, the robes vanished and the Brick Victorian reverted to a cottage for the purpose of my letter.

Interested? I couldn’t stop reading!

Desire

Andrew wisely gave a third of his space to the photo and headline. His body copy was uncommonly brief, yet it included everything a home owner could desire*:

We…have other…buyers keen to purchase in this area.

If you…would like a hassle free quick sale we would love to talk to you.

Why not see what your property is worth today.

Action

The bottom bore Andrew’s name and number in a massive, bold font. This was smart, as my eyesight is indeed waning.

Next to this was a full-length photo of Andrew: standing, smiling, handsome and tieless in a very nice suit.

My action? Though I wasn’t ready to sell my home, I asked Andrew if I could praise him in public. He replied:

I must admit I know very little about blogs but am happy to assist in any way. Feel free to use what you need…

Ye gods; honest too! That settles it: I’d better tell Fonnie we’re moving.

Anyway: attention, interest, desire, action – that’s how you write killer copy!

:)

Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

 * For journalistic integrity, I (barely) resisted the urge to optimise this copy. I’ve tried to ‘help’ many real estate agents, but they always get cross. I think it’s my delivery …

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. | The Pool Theme.
Entries and comments feeds.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.